Friday, March 27, 2015

This week on YouTube 3/23/15!

Watch videos: March 24 School Board Meeting, Pontiac Elementary TED talk, North Springs Elementary Students present about sustainability, Armed forces relay race and Spring Valley High School multicultural festival

This week on Flickr 3/23/15!

Click the image to visit our Flickr photostream and see photos from: Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School Arts Day & International Women's Day, Spring Valley High School basketball Star P.J. Dozier Gets sendoff before McDonald's All-American Game & Girls Basketball State Championship Game Pep RallyFort Jackson Army Band visits North Springs Elementary & NSE walks to school.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Day in the Life of Joseph Keels Elementary School music specialist Kenneth Perkins Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Kenneth Perkins, Joseph Keels Elementary School music specialist. Mr. Perkins teaches general music and chorus. He joined the Richland Two family three years ago, after learning the ropes at Tigerville and Mountain View Elementary in Greenville. We're following Mr. Perkins tomorrow Wednesday, March 26 for a Day in the Life. Check out our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for peek into A Day in the Life of Mr. Perkins! #ADITL

Public input session for the 2015-2016 General Fund Budget process, School Board meeting tonight

Tonight the Richland Two Board of Trustees will hold the first of two public input sessions on the
2015–2016 General Fund Budget from 5 to 5:30 p.m. prior to the board meeting at Lake Carolina Elementary Upper Campus, located at 1261 Kelly Mill Road, 29229.

Richland Two Board Chairman Calvin “Chip” Jackson said, “Input from Richland Two families, employees and taxpayers helps us develop a budget that supports meaningful, challenging and engaging learning experiences for all students. We encourage citizens to take advantage of these opportunities to share ideas and suggestions for district administrators and the Board to consider when crafting the budget that goes into effect July 1, 2015.”

Individuals who cannot attend one of the public input sessions can email suggestions and/or questions to

The 2014–2015 Richland Two General Fund Budget totals $234,914,783, with 66.2 percent budgeted for salaries, 22.6 percent for benefits, 8.6 percent for services, 2.2 percent for supplies and less than 1 percent for on equipment and other expenses. For additional information, visit our General Fund Budget page.

The Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. and immediately move into executive session. The public session begins at 7 p.m. See the agenda.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Early dismissal, student holidays coming up

Elementary and middle schools will dismiss early on Thursday, March 26. Middle schools will
dismiss at 10:45 a.m., while elementary schools will dismiss at 11:30 a.m. The following day, Friday, March 27 is a student holiday.

Schools, centers and administrative offices will be closed March 30 - April 3 for spring break.

This week on Flickr!

Click the image to visit our Flickr photostream and see photos from: Future Chefs, Digital Learning Day and North Springs Elementary students presentations on sustainable classrooms.

This week on YouTube!

Watch videos: R2I2 Advisory Meeting, 5th annual Sodexo Future Chefs Competition, Peter Lerangis Visits Blythewood Middle, Digital Learning Day, Principal for a Day and Building Blocks at Bookman Road Elementary School.

Why we have early release days in elementary and middle school

Richland Two elementary and middle schools schedule six days per year when middle school
students dismiss at 10:45 and elementary students dismiss at 11:30. The first early release day,
scheduled in September, is set aside for Parent­Teacher conferences. The remaining five provide
time for teachers to participate in collaborative planning and professional development.
Representatives of elementary and middle school teachers serving on the Superintendent’s
Faculty Advisory Council provide the following explanation on the importance and value of
these days to educators.

Our schools benefit from teachers who rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of
very diverse learners and set high expectations for all students. Early dismissal days play an
increasingly important role in supporting this philosophy and what we value.

Teachers do all they can to protect instructional time. We know, however, the importance
of planning together and participating in professional development in order to ensure our
instruction involves meaningful, challenging, differentiated and quality learning experiences for
all students. The loss of instructional time on early release days is made up by the fact that teachers
benefit students by spending time:

  • Meeting in grade-­level teams to look at student performance data and talk together about instructional changes designed to meet individual student needs.
  • Gathering in collaborative groups to share what we have learned with other faculty and administrators about using technology integration in our classrooms.
  • Working within and across grade-­level teams to engage in curriculum design and work to map the curriculum to ensure continuity from Grades K­-12.
  • Participating in professional development, which is an integral part of teacher and classroom success because it keeps educators abreast of advances in education; deepens teachers’ content knowledge and pedagogical skills; provides opportunities for teachers and professional experts to share best practices and reflect upon our own experiences and those of others. Effective professional development requires more than the length of a faculty meeting. Early release days allow for ample time to effectively listen, participate, and reflect on the pedagogical skill presented.

A Day in the Life of Dena Spickard recap

Wednesday, March 11, 2015, was a busy day for INC. Magnet science teacher Dena Spickard. She began the day before sunrise greeting Kelly Mill Middle School students as they arrived in the car rider line. After the brief homeroom period, Ms. Spickard was off to the multipurpose room for AVID interviews. Kelly Mill is an AVID National Demonstration School. AVID is an in-school academic support program for seventh and eighth graders that prepares students for college eligibility and success.

Students waited patiently until they were called to one of the many long tables where teachers and administrators, prepared with short questionnaires on their Chromebooks, conducted the interviews.

"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Ms. Spickard asked a prospective student.

"Owning my own business," the student replied.

"What steps do you need to take to make that happen?"

"I need to finish college," the student said.

After interviews ended, Ms. Spickard stopped to collaborate with Ms. Hipp, whose students are participating in  the Economic Poster Contest, sponsored by SC Economics. Last year, one of Ms. Spickard's students earned a spot in the Economics Concepts Calendar. Next, Ms. Spickard and her student teacher Ms. Hiers began setting up for the motors and generators lab. Soon they had six stations set up around the classroom where students could discover the different kinds of energy in use and explore the impact it made.

Next, Ms. Spickard helped the intern tweak the questions she had written for the lab, "I would ask, 'What happens when you turn the crank faster or slower?' And then ask, 'Why do you think that is?'" she advised.

"What's the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word motor?" she asked students when they arrived, sending hands in the air. As the groups of either all girls or all boys (INC math and science classes are single-gender) circulated through the stations, Ms. Spickard challenged them to determine the type of energy in use at each stage. "It's flowing," she said to one student prompting the correct answer of "electrical!" INC. is a district-wide magnet program, geared towards honors and advanced students with an emphasis on business and economics.

Soon, it was 2:25 p.m., and the end of the school day. With her students gone, Ms. Spickard, who helps coach the Kelly Mill girls soccer team, grabbed an armful of team pictures and headed to the soccer fields. It's all in a Day in the Life!

Below is Ms. Spickard's day in photos. Visit our A Day in the Life album on Flickr to see more of Ms. Spickard's day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Important changes coming to high school testing

This school year marks the beginning of important changes in high school state testing in South
Carolina. The High School Assessment Program (HSAP) will no longer be given. Instead, students in their third year of high school will take two assessments: The ACT, a college and career readiness assessment, and WorkKeys®, which measures essential workforce skills. Both assessments will be administered as paper and pencil tests.

In Richland Two and across the state, students will take:
  • ACT on April 28
  • WorkKeys on April 29
The ACT test is a college entrance exam covering English, reading, math, and science, and writing. It measures what students have learned in high school coursework. The timed-test includes multiple-choice questions and a writing portion. All 11th grade students in South Carolina are eligible for FREE online ACT® preparation courses.

For more information on ACT:

The WorkKeys® assessment measures “real world” skills that employers believe are critical to job success. Test questions are based on situations in the everyday work world.
The timed-test consists of three parts with 45 minutes per section:
  1. Applied Mathematics (33 items)
    Click here to review sample questions.
  2. Reading for Information (33 items)
    Click here to review sample questions.
  3. Locating Information (38 items)
    Click here to review sample questions.

Learn more about testing accommodations for special needs students for ACT Workkeys® here.

For more information on WorkKeys including what a WorkKeys score means and how results will be used, click here to read information provided by the S.C. Education Oversight Committee

Monday, March 16, 2015

Changes to elementary and middle school tests coming

State testing for students in Grades 3-8 includes a new, timed test this school year called ACT Aspire. In Richland Two, our students will take the paper and pencil ACT Aspire tests for writing, English, reading and mathematics. They will not take the optional ACT Aspire test for science that some districts may use. Students in Grades 4-8 will continue to take SCPASS for science and social studies. Schools have the option of administering SCPASS as an online test or a paper and pencil test. Third-graders will not take any state tests for science and social studies.

Special needs students will be provided with accommodations to take ACT Aspire™. To learn more about these accommodations, please review the Accessibility Users Guide here.

Click here to visit the Richland Two website and view the grade 3-8 testing schedule.

Friday, March 13, 2015

This week on YouTube

Watch videos: 2015 Viking Cup, March 10, 2015 School Board meeting, the Joseph Keels Character Parade and much more!

This week on Flickr

Click the image to visit our Flickr photostream and see photos from: Principal for a Day, A Day in the Life of Dena Spickard, special recognitions from the March 10 School Board meeting, Ridge View High School black history month assembly, Special Olympics, Kelly Mill Middle School math night and much, much more!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

March 10, 2015 School Board meeting highlights

Special Recognition
Richland Two students, employees and school board members were recognized for their accomplishments.

Faculty Focus
Felicia Richburg-Sellers and Jennifer Rushing from Conder Elementary School shared how the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) approach is being integrated throughout the school. They also shared experiences from Conder's recent STEAM Day including a video detailing how the school is working to solve the “Food Deserts” issue facing many children across the nation.

Voting Item: Elementary and Middle Early Release Days for 2015-2016
The board voted to approve the proposed elementary and middle school early release dates for the 2015–2016 school year. These dates were selected by the Superintendent’s Faculty Advisory Council and the elementary and middle school principals. Early release days provide time for teachers to participate in collaborative planning and professional development, which prepares them to meet the needs of very diverse learners and set high expectations for all students.

Early Release Dates
Explanation and Purpose of Early Release Dates
2015–2016 Working Calendar

Update: Ridge View Facilities
Executive Director of Operations Jack Carter presented an update on the status of ongoing facilities upgrades at Ridge View High School.

Ridge View Update

Report: Career Prep
Team Leader for Career and Technology Education Mary Paige Boyce shared with the board information about the Richland Two Career Prep Program. The program is offered as an option to high school students who have been enrolled in and have been unsuccessful in the ninth grade for a minimum of three semesters and whose test scores indicate a possible need for this program. This alternative program focuses on the job readiness and life skills necessary for students to successfully enter the workforce. Students learn the Work Keys skills necessary to pass the Applied Math, Locating Information and Reading for Information tests necessary for employment in major businesses which use this assessment for hiring purposes.

Career Prep Presentation

Report: Board and Superintendent Priorities
Superintendent Debbie Hamm shared with the board her nine priority areas for improvement in the district.

Nine Priority Areas

A complete recording of each board meeting is aired on the district’s cable access channel 12 R2TV on Time Warner Cable and on demand anytime through the district’s YouTube channel.

A Day in the Life of Dena Spickard Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Meet sixth grade science teacher Dena Spickard. Ms. Spickard joined the Richland Two family five years ago and currently teaches at Kelly Mill Middle School. Her INC. magnet program students are currently working on designing their own business for the KMMS field day later this month.  She is also the KMMS girls soccer team coach  and serves as a mentor teacher for a USC intern teacher. Ms. Spickard likes to keep students engaged in science through inquiry-based learning experiences.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @RichlandTwo for a peek into A Day in the Life of Dena Spickard. #ADITL

Friday, March 6, 2015

This week on YouTube

Watch videos: "This is Richland Two," Kelly Mill Middle School Black History Month celebration and literacy week 2015.

This week on Flickr

Click the image to visit our Flickr photostream and see photos from: the Character Parade at Joseph Keels Elementary School, Realtors Appreciation Breakfast Real Men Read at Keels and Langford elementary schools, Black History month programs at Keels and Windsor elementary, Kelly Mill Middle and Spring Valley High, and Ridge View High magnet freshman interviews.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5, 2015 School Board meeting highlights

Voting Item: Eight Percent Funding
Chief Financial Officer Harry Miley presented a list of projects to be funded through Eight Percent Funds. As of June 30, 2014, the remaining debt margin available to the School District was $10,606,460. The board voted to approve a revised list of projects.

Voting Item: Richland Two Child Development Program Proposal
Executive Director of Special Projects Sue Mellette presented a proposal for creating a district-wide child development program. This program would replace the current center-based child development program and offer services at all Richland Two elementary schools. The board voted to approve the creation of this new system that will allow the district to serve more families.

Richland Two Child Development Proposal

Voting Item: Policy AR DIE-R (Audits/Financial Monitoring)
Chief Financial Officer Harry Miley presented an amendment to the existing board policy AR DIE-R. This amendment would require board approval for all budget line item transfers exceeding 10 percent of the General Fund line item. The board voted to approve this amendment.

Policy AR DIE-R

Report: Revenue Forecast for FY 2015–2016
Chief Financial Officer Harry Miley presented as information to the board the preliminary General Fund revenue forecast for FY 2015–2016.

Report: Elementary and Middle Early Release Days for 2015-2016
Executive Director of Communications Libby Roof presented as information to the board the proposed elementary and middle school early release dates for the 2015–2016 school year. These dates were selected by the Superintendent’s Faculty Advisory Council and the elementary and middle school principals.

Proposed Early Release Dates
Explanation and Purpose of Early Release Dates
2015–2016 Working Calendar

Report: Enterprise Information Technology Security Assessment
Chief Technology Officer Tom Cranmer reported the results of the Enterprise Information Technology Security Assessment to the board. This assessment was conducted to gauge the relative vulnerability risks and security readiness of the district’s information technology infrastructure.

Enterprise IT Security Assessment Presentation

A complete recording of each board meeting is aired on the district’s cable access channel 12 R2TV on Time Warner Cable and on demand anytime through the district’sYouTube channel.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Richland School District Two is partnering with DHEC to provide Tdap immunizations

The Tdap immunization, commonly called the Tetanus and Whooping Cough vaccine, is a requirement for all students entering seventh, eighth and ninth grades for next school year (2015-2016). Pertussis immunity wears off over time, so students in the targeted grade levels are required to have the vaccine to prevent the spread of Pertussis/ Whooping Cough.

Pertussis/ Whooping Cough is highly contagious and is spread via droplets from a simple cough. Pertussis, known for uncontrollable violent cough, often makes it hard to breath. After coughing fits, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths, which results in a “whooping” sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age. Visit the Center for Disease Control's Pertussis/Whooping Cough page to learn more.

The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization. By state law, students must show proof of receiving the Tdap vaccine at the start of their seventh-grade school year or they will be subject to suspension. The deadline for compliance for next school year is Wednesday, August 19, 2015.

Richland School District Two is partnering with DHEC to provide Tdap immunizations in the middle schools for current sixth graders so they can meet the seventh grade requirement. Consent forms are going home Monday March 2, 2015, and are due back to the school nurse Friday, March 6, 2015. Please contact your school nurse for questions or concerns.

Below are the schools and the dates of Tdap vaccination clinics:

  • March 24 - Longleaf Middle School 
  • March 25 - E.L. Wright Middle School and Anna Boyd School 
  • April 7 - Blythewood Middle School 
  • April 14 - Dent Middle School 
  • April 21 - Muller Road Middle School 
  • April 23 - Summit Parkway Middle School
  • April 27 - Kelly Mill Middle School 

A Day in the Life of Spring Valley High School's Kloo Hansen

Even on a two-hour inclement weather delay, Spring Valley High School teacher Kloo Hansen's classroom operates like a well-oiled machine. As students begin to arrive, her intern University of South Carolina student Josh Joseph writes the students names on desks using a dry erase marker. Seats in her blended learning classroom are assigned with an eye to creating a mix of learners at each four-desk group.

World geography classes in first and second period began a unit on human population. Students came in and immediately started their "bell work," five questions, including the exact world population on their birthday. The questions were posted on Google Class and included links to helpful resources, the  U.S. and World Population Clock and, which displays seven billion people on a single page and claims to be the largest web page in the world. The students then took a short survey about their interest in the topic. After a quick informative National Geographic video about the world's population, they began drafting questions they wanted to answer or have answered about the topic.

As they worked, Ms. Hansen circulated around the room encouraging students to refine questions, "Instead you might want to ask, 'What's happening to allow this to exist?'" and noting ones she looked forward to learning more about. "The more information you have, the more interesting facts you find, the more you're going to enjoy this unit. You're steering the ship." she told the class.

Simultaneously, she recorded class participation on her Chromebook using class management software Class Dojo. Sounds indicating that she was awarding or subtracting Dojo points reminded students to stay on task. Next, students discussed their questions with their group and selected four to post to Padlet, a web-based collaboration tool. Ms. Hansen will use the questions to help drive the unit.

Toward the end of first period, a group of teachers from Blythewood High School, lead by Technology Integration Specialist Chuck Holland, stopped by to observe. As the lead teacher for the district's Blended Learning Project, Ms. Hansen is accustomed to regular visitors in her classroom. Blended Learning classrooms like Ms. Hansen's (there are 20 at Spring Valley High) are flexible, technology-infused, collaborative and student-centered. She often paused to ask, “Does this make sense?”

She took a few moments to share with the visitors how she used a variety of formative assessment tools like Class Dojo, Padlet and Geddit to keep a "pulse" of students' understanding of the content. Students can access the information anywhere and any time.

"I give them choice. I give them buy-in. I've seen gains every year that I have added blended learning tools," she said.

During lunch, Ms. Hansen and Mr. Joseph prepare for fifth period's AP psychology class which began studying human development. On a dry erase board, she posted pictures of herself and encouraged students to guess her age in the photos. Later, she showed the class examples of an upcoming mini-group project about human developmental stages, in which they will include their own lifespan pictures.

Ms. Hansen's seventh period AP human geography class prepped for a March Madness style map activity. First step: define a state: a  sovereign territory with specific boundaries, has an established government that is able to make alliances and treaties. The groups then tried to name all the states of the world they could in 10 minutes, writing the names on their desktops with dry erase markers. After the challenge, students discussed the ease or difficulty of the activity.

Ms. Hansen is passionate about blended learning and the difference it can make in her student's lives. "It lets me get right to good stuff where they are applying the concepts and really understanding the content."

The school day ends, but instead of packing up Ms. Hansen headed to a meeting aimed at helping a student struggling in one of her classes. It's all in a Day in the Life!

Below is Ms. Hansen's day in photos. Visit our A Day in the Life album on Flickr to see more of Ms. Hansen's day.